History of concepts

The permanent growth of the science of History, as a study of the vital, social and ideal reality of men in time, in the triple epistemological frontier of political thought and historiology, puts us in the presence of a fertile space of research that, from the History of Ideas, has given birth to Intellectual History and, from that springboard, to the History of Concepts. It is an important field of research that, even though it encompasses great methodological differences, they coincide in the question they formulate: what does action mean in past and present societies? In fact, it proposes, in addition to the opening of a disquieting investigation, an interaction between the most important disciplines, with deep displacements of meaning but with a point of coincidence,

Löwith, born in 1897, taught Philosophy at the German University of Marburg (1928) and later at the Japanese University of Sendai. Already in the maturity of his thought, in North American universities. In his work “Meaning in History” he shows that all Western thought about history is built either on the classical world view or on the Christian faith in the Kingdom of God; both, in principle, irreconcilable, although sometimes they can be interconnected. The modern interpretation of the history of the West is Christian by derivation, since it starts from the biblical base, and anti-Christian by consequence, since its critical axis is constituted by the secular notion of progress.

Eric Voegelin, an illustrious professor at the University of Vienna and Louisiana State University, director of the Institute of Political Sciences of the Federal Government of Germany, is the author of a monumental work, “Order and History”, in five volumes, in which, From the biblical world, the historical meaning of Revelation, Redemption and Salvation is analyzed. Voegelin also inaugurated the 1966 course at the Menéndez Pelayo International University in Santander, with a conference entitled «Gnostic mass movements as substitutes for religion», where he places in the foreground the meaning of these movements, «progressivism, Marxism , psychoanalysis, communism, fascism and national-socialism”, some of which, like neo-positivism and variants of psychoanalysis, he considers could be called intellectual currents.

In the field of university research, the History of Concepts is part of a tradition, first of all French, which for a long time was embodied in Gaston Bachelard, who defended the idea of ​​the constitution of a science of science from the development of the procedures and laws of the same sciences. In 1929 he wrote “La valeur inductive de la relativité”, defending the decisive scientific vocation of renunciation of absolute truths. This opened an epistemological field at the Sorbonne with Georges Canguilhem.

The important focus of the so-called Canbridge School is situated in the Anglo-Saxon world, with peculiar and intense attention to historical situations, based on the experience of the «linguistic turn», very much in line with Wittgenstein in his «Philosophical Investigations». In this line, the professor at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, John Pocock, and his «machiavellian moment», and, at the University of Cambridge, the great figure of Quentin Skinner stand out. The search for meaning consists in proposing a contextual approach through the contributions of historical semantics, breaking away from purely genetic or genealogical research. In the United States, at the hub of Harvard University, a conceptual history of politics has emerged.

Another important trend in the History of Concepts is located in Germany: the Befriffgeschichte, an exchange of historical research with philosophical and philological research. It is an area of ​​great fertility, defined by Reinhart Koselleck. For his part, Manfred Bock stresses the importance of the concept of cultural integration, in which he distinguishes four pre-1914 groups: conservative Protestantism, Catholicism, social democracy, and cultural Protestantism. The trend in the driver of mathematical logic, in the anti-psychologist vision of Friedrich Ludwig Gottlob Frege (1848-1925).

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